"Water in the Wilderness"
Yesterday I came across another somewhat typical "anti-God" diatribe in an online forum as someone rather stridently announced: "I totally and unequivocally reject the God revealed in the Bible." He went on to describe this "biblically revealed" God as a judgmental king- a homophobic and aloof superbeing who controls people's lives and intervenes in world events.
I hear this type of online "anti-God" talk almost every day, so I have come not to pay all that much attention to it. But yesterday I was particularly struck with the assertion that this is the way God is "revealed in the Bible." The fact is that while popular culture may think of God as a man in the sky, that's NOT how God is revealed in the Bible.
I was quite entertained recently by a book review I read on amazon. I had actually read and very much enjoyed the book being considered, but the reviewer saw things very differently. She did not at all enjoy the book she was reviewing, in fact she despised it. In her review she also admitted that she had only read a very small portion of this lengthy1000 page novel, but it was enough for her to develop an "informed opinion" so that she might warn others that this terrible book was not worth reading.
When I came across yesterday's diatribe against the "God revealed in the Bible," I immediately thought about that amazon review. I actually wondered if that person who so vehemently rejected the biblically revealed "God" had actually read the Bible or perhaps he had read only a small portion-just enough to develop an "informed opinion."
The fact is that if you do read the many books of the Bible, and take a broad look at the "big picture," you get a very different image of "God" from the popular portrait of the "heavenly king in the sky."
A common theme that runs through the entire Bible is that the "earth" is "sacred" and that "God" is an uncontainable and untamable Holy Presence abiding in and revealed here on earth- in the world of nature:
God is wind: "God" isn't just like wind, God is wind, God is an abiding energy sweeping through everything that is. In the Hebrew Scriptures, in the beginning, the wind of God breathes over creation and everything comes into being. The wind also blows over a desert valley lined with dried scattered bones and the bones are given new life. In the Gospels, the Holy Spirit is a mighty wind that blows on the apostles on Pentecost Sunday filling them with courage and new life. The wind of God blows freely, it cannot be controlled or caged, and when it blows it always stirs up something new.
God is water: Since most of the biblical stories take place in a desert context, the revelation of "God as water" is particularly significant. There are numerous biblical stories in which "God" is a "spring of water" bubbling up out of the dry desert sands refreshing the parched and wilting spirits of humankind.
God is fire: "God" is first revealed to Moses as a burning bush- an unquenchable flame of eternal love. And, as the Hebrew people wander into wildness searching for the Promised Land, they are guided by a burning pillar of flame -God abiding with them on the way. Then in the Gospels as the timid followers of Jesus gather together on Pentecost, the Spirit of God is revealed as a tongue of fire- a bright flame of love resting over their heads, empowering them to go out into the marketplace and create a new world of compassion.
Yes, like my online friend, I also reject an aloof god who looks down at us from a heavenly throne - but that isn't the "God" revealed in the Bible. The God revealed in the Bible is the "God" the earth reveals to me every day here in my desert home - Abiding Presence, transcendent beauty, untamed mystery, blowing wind, refreshing water, a blazing flame of love rising new every morning.
Holy, Holy, Holy, heaven and earth are full of thy glory!